Marriages Bill: Does Section 40 promote small houses?

By Daniel Chigundu

The government last week gazetted the much-awaited Marriages Bill and people have already begun talking about its possible implications.

Section 40 appears to have attracted a lot of public attention and debate due to alleged views that it is seeking to undermine marriages by allegedly promoting extramarital affairs (small houses).

Mbizo legislator Settlement Chikwinya wrote on his Facebook page that in his view, the Bill is not in the best interest of society.

“…the import of the Bill is to recognise any loose relationship even if there was no sexual relationship for that matter.

“…in my view I don’t think this is in the best interest of our society and our cultural norms. I hope people will contribute as much as they can so that at the end of the day we make laws for the good governance of our society.

“By the way, I shall have the privilege of taking all the views expressed on this platform and at any other fora during the official debate so I welcome all the views as much as possible,” he said.

BCC Phenomenal Women at their event held at Faith Ministries Borrowdale Community Church which was organised for the purposes of “Unpacking the Marriages Bill” had speakers criticising Section 40 saying “the Bill demotes current marriages, upgrades small houses to spouses, introduces insecurity and instability, takes away honourable marriages, legitimises adultery, legitimises cohabitation among many others.

However, according to Kuda Hove from Misa Zimbabwe, the Section does not promote extramarital affairs adding that it only kicks in when the cohabitation comes to an end.

“The Section doesn’t create a new class of relationship or marriages, it just says those relationships are considered civil partnerships for the purpose of sharing property acquired during the time the couple were staying together.

“People can’t rely on Section 40 when they are still together. It only kicks in when the cohabitation comes to an end. The clause is only for purposes of sharing property at the end of the relationship and will only apply to couples that were living together consistently,” he said.

Asked on why there are too many negative feelings about Section 40, Hove said it’s a result of misinformation which is resulting from lack of understanding of the Bill.

“Mainly misunderstanding coupled with personal beliefs and prejudices, as well as lawyers who do not understand the Bill who then spread misinformation about it.

“The public doesn’t understand the actual text of the Bill because there are so many alternative facts around this Bill,” he said.

According to Hove, people should read the memorandum of the Bill which clearly states that Section 40 is not creating a new class or type of marriage.

The memorandum is found at the beginning of the Bill and gives a summary explanation of each section of the Bill.

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Daniel Chigundu

Daniel Chigundu is a journalist in Zimbabwe and has been practising since September 2009. He used to be the editor for The Business Connect (newspaper) in Harare, has his own website Tourism Focus which is biased towards the tourism sector. Daniel is also working with Magamba Network as news editor for their project called Open Parliament where they do live coverage of Parliamentary activities on Twitter and Facebook. He is currently the secretary-general of the Zimbabwe Parliamentary Journalists Forum, is a member of Zimbabwe Small Broadcasters Association and a board member of Digital Communication Network. He holds a Diploma in Communication and Journalism from the Christian College of Southern Africa (CCOSA), a certificate in Youth leadership training from the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES), a certificate in Citizen Journalism from Magamba Network and is currently a first-year student at Zimbabwe Open University studying for a Bachelor of Arts Honours in Ethics and Organisational Leadership.

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